Pollution Can Counteract Exercise Benefits, Study Suggests

Those who walked in the park experience increased lung function, as well as a decrease in pulse wave velocity — a measure of stiffened arteries

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Air pollution can hinder the effects of exercise in the body, a new British study suggests.

As NBC News reported, researchers from Imperial College London studied 120 people, aged 60 or older, who walked in lush Hyde Park or along traffic-clogged Oxford Street. Eighty participants had mild heart or lung disease.

Those who walked through Hyde Park experienced increased lung function, as well as a decrease in pulse wave velocity — a measure of stiffened arteries. The benefits lasted a full day. "By contrast, these beneficial responses were attenuated after walking on Oxford Street," Rudy Sinharay and colleagues wrote. 

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"Our findings suggest that healthy people, as well as those with chronic cardiorespiratory disorders, should minimize walking on streets with high levels of pollution because this curtails or even reverses the cardiorespiratory benefits of exercise," the researchers wrote.

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